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Multigeneration Pedigrees to Monitor Hatchery Broodstock Composition and Genetic Variation of Spring/Summer Chinook Salmon in the Columbia River Basin

May 4, 2022


Hatchery production of Chinook Salmon Oncorhynchus tshawytscha in the Columbia River basin comprises most of the anadromous salmonid production in this region. Hatchery facilities and programs serve to mitigate for impacts to salmonids due to the construction and operation of hydropower dams and habitat impacts from development in addition to the conservation and restoration of natural populations. A genetic method referred to as parentage-based tagging (PBT) enables highly reliable detection of hatchery-origin fish and inference of multigeneration pedigrees. This study compiles 11 years of PBT data from nearly 125,000 interior stream-type Chinook Salmon from 24 spawning hatcheries located on tributaries of the mid- and upper Columbia River and in the Salmon, Clearwater, and Grande Ronde River subbasins. Multigenerational pedigrees allowed for investigation of the proportions of natural- and hatchery-origin broodstock (pNOB and pHOB, respectively) for each hatchery and enumeration of the scale of production between segregated and integrated programs. We then compared how pHOB and the scale of production influenced the number of stray fish observed, genetic diversity, relatedness, and age-class compositions within broodstocks. Over 91.0% of hatchery broodstock could be assigned back to their parents, and overall less than 1.0% of broodstock consisted of fish that were unintentionally incorporated into nonnatal hatchery programs. We evaluated 11 segregated programs with 0.0–10.0% pNOB, 9 intermediate programs (10.1–50.0% pNOB), and 3 integrated programs (>50.0% pNOB). There was no correlation between the scale of production or pNOB with the level of genetic diversity, but as production size increased, so did the effective number of breeders. This study demonstrates the utility of PBT as a monitoring tool for hatchery broodstocks, and results suggest that segregated and integrated programs have tradeoffs that generally align with their intended broodstock management purpose of providing fish for harvest and/or fish for supplementation or reintroduction.


Rebekah Horn, Maureen Hess, Stephanie Harmon, Jon Hess, Thomas Delomas, Matthew Campbell, and Shawn Narum


Horn, R.L., M. Hess, S. Harmon, J. Hess, T.A. Delomas, M.R. Campbell, and S. Narum. 2023. Multigeneration pedigrees to monitor hatchery broodstock composition and genetic variation of spring/summer Chinook Salmon in the Columbia River Basin. North American Journal of Fisheries Management 43(3):794-820. Online at



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Journal Article